One of the touchy moments for any photographer is when friends or relatives ask you to shoot their wedding. To me the answer is obvious, but for you, when the situation arises, the answer may not be so simple.
The hard cases are when friends are asking out of economic necessity. They can’t afford to hire someone so it’s you or no one, or maybe it’s a relative in the same situation.
When those situations arise, it’s good to review your mental checklist of why it’s a bad idea before you answer.
1) You won’t get to enjoy the wedding. Shooting a wedding right is a ton of work. It’s more than just taking a few snapshots, but that’s what your friends will say to try and convince you. “Ah, come on,” they’ll beg. “Just take a few quick pictures.”
Only it won’t be a few quick pictures, because if that’s all you do, you’ll miss many of the expected shots and your friends will be disappointed. Don’t kid yourself, if you take on the job it will be a day of planning, shot cards, dress shots, the entire ceremony, the formal shots and the reception.
2) If something goes wrong you’ll never be able to escape their disappointment. Data cards can fail, cameras can have problems, things can go wrong. If you’re shooting a friend’s wedding you might be tempted to cut corners and skip the backup body and second photographer. Something that will almost guarantee a problem with your regular camera.
3) You’re putting your equipment on the line. When dragging all your gear to a wedding, you’re risking having it lost, stolen or broken in an accident. Part of the reason you charge for doing weddings is so you can carry insurance against loss. When you watch your Canon 5D take a slow-motion tumble from the second floor balcony, you’ll understand this concern in a much clearer light.
4) You’re putting your financial freedom on the line. If by some bizarre circumstance you injure someone or damage something, you could end up being responsible. Organizations like WEVA exist to help photographers obtain liability insurance at reasonable rates.
Sometimes the answer might still be a yes. If you’re new to the business and want to build your portfolio, or if it’s a charity case and you’re willing to accept the risks. Just remember, in those cases you’re lumping the time and accepting the expenses and associated risks.